‘Too much’ brain calcium may cause Parkinson’s
New research has provided fresh hope for a Parkinson’s disease cure.
Scientists have discovered excessive calcium levels in the brain may be behind the condition that has previously left experts baffled.
Although the mineral plays a vital role in linking nerve endings with a protein, known as alpha-synuclein, which is critical for brain cell communication, excessive levels can trigger nerve cell death, a study found.
Study author Dr Amberley Stephens from Cambridge University, said: ‘There’s a fine balance of calcium and alpha-synuclein in the cell, and when there is too much of one or the other, the balance is tipped and aggregation begins, leading to Parkinson’s disease.’
Parkinson’s disease is caused by these proteins folding into the wrong shape and sticking together to form filament-like structures, however, it was previously unclear why this occurs.
The researchers hope their findings could lead to the development of new treatments, such as calcium blockers, to combat the incurable condition.
They add eating calcium-rich foods, such as cheese, is not linked to the disorder.
Senior author Dr Gabriele Kaminski Schierle added: ‘The study relates to the control of calcium levels which will be the same in any human being independent of its dietary intake.’